Desperately Seeking “Ruth”

The past 12 months have been full of so much living, so much frenzied activity, so much joy, and, yes, so much sorrow. I have been savoring the saccharine fullness of a life freely given both in love and service. Much of my busyness has been in raising my four sons and mentoring younger Christian women. This is the life I have chosen, this is the life that I love.  This is the life that changes.

One thing you can always be sure of is that life will change. Fact, life changes. Indeed, it has changed. My husband and I left our ministry of 3 or more years this past March. After much throught and heart searching, we knew that it was time to hand the reigns of this ministry to the up and coming, highly gifted and trained younger leaders. We had done all that was needed. Our role as mentors had come to its natural end. It was time for change.

Then, why the surprise? Why am I so off balance? Why am I so unsettled and shaken to the core?  Why the sorrow? I sit silent, listening ever so carefully to the stillness. The silence answers me not. Trees bend in the wind, swaying to the left and to the right. The wind blows so violently, I fear the branches may snap, but they are supple, young growth. They return intact. Now somehow stronger, they reach out for the sky. It is as if the sky is the limit. Can I be as flexible as in my youth? The trees do not reply.

Will I reach for the sky once again?

Youth, pliable and glowing, is full of possibilities.  It is a stream bubbling with opportunties not yet offered, filled with dreams yet to dream, and, yes, to be lived. Then, hope seems endless. There are so many paths to choose – so many new journeys to be embarked upon. I have lived half the adult lifespan. I am middle aged.

Oh, how I have tasted the many flavors of life. Life is like a bag of jelly beans. Some flavors are delightful, and you just can’t eat enough, while others are sour and leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Quickly, you learn which beans to avoid, but every now and then, a bad bean slips into the promising bowl of candies, and you recklessly bite into another one of life’s disppointments. Sometimes you get caught up in the moment and gobble up too many of a good thing and are left with a queasy stomach. Other times, you forget to savor the sweetness of each moment and regret that you didn’t fully enjoy what you had while you had it. Then, there are the beans that are just too good to eat. You leave them in the bowl, waiting for just the right time to enjoy them. Does it ever come?

Life is like a bag of jelly beans.

I have tasted so many of life’s splendid flavors. I married the love of my life 20 years ago. What joy he has brought to my life. I look forward to many more years. I have four sons, who are becoming young men who walk with the Lord. What sweetness it is to become a mother, not once but four times. To have your kids side with the Lord is a gift beyond words, a hope I hold close to my heart. Anticipating the day they move forward to build their God’s kingdom is a treasure I desire more than I can express. To reconcil with a parent is the joy of redemption. To serve your Lord, even though you are flawed beyond what ought to be, is an honor sweeter than the best honey. I have tasted all these things and so much more.

No doubt about it, I’m middle aged. Over half of my life is behind me. I can’t help, but think of poor old Naomi. Boy, life was sweet to her in her youth. She must have been a lovely, young woman. (When she returned from Moab, her old women friends couldn’t believe how she aged. Her looks were gone.) She married, and they farmed their land in Bethlehem. They had two sons,  Mahlon and Kilion. What a wonderful life Naomi must have invisioned for herself.

But, as we all know life is a mixture of joy and pain. It has a way of giving us disappointment and sorrow. A famine comes to Bethlehem, so Naomi and her hubby head to Moab, a land where the people worshiped idols. While in Moab, her darling husband perishes, and then her two sons, who had married pagan women, die. What sorrow poor ole Noami experienced. In her despair, she returns to Bethlehem as a middle aged, life-worn woman. Ah, poor Naomi.

As Naomi leaves Moab, her daughter-in-laws, Ruth and Orpah, go with her. Naomi admonishes them both to stay in their native land where they may find new husbands. Orpah agrees to remain in Moab, but Ruth does a surprising thing:

 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.  Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

This must be one of the most beautiful pledges that anyone had ever given to another human. Ruth’s courage and youthful exuberance, rubbed off on Naomi. She was a blessing to her, as Naomi was a blessing to Ruth. What sweetness Ruth bestowed upon middle aged Naomi. And it is to this sweetness that I drawn. It seems to me that in Titus 2 Paul had some advice to the older Christian women.

The youthful exuberance of Ruth

 Then they [the older women] can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.  Titus 2:4-5

What does any of this have to do with me? Honestly, I’m not completely sure. I do know that the silence does not speak to you. But when you are still, there is a certain calmness and cessation of activity and absence of control that allows you to submit to the sovereign will of God. There is a release of control to your creator, who loves you and has a plan for your life. After all, we all know that life is in flux. It will change.

 ”Be silent, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” Psalms 46:10

So, here I am, Lord. My name is Lisa. I’m a 43 year old wife and mother of four sons, who knows that God has a plan for my life. God, you are good. As simple as that sounds, it’s true. You designed me to serve and to use those 43 years of life to minister to younger women. I have a purpose.

After season of quiet and comtemplation, I’m stepping out and seeking where the Spirit leads. Maybe He’s leading me to serve in our college ministry. Or, maybe he’s leading my husband and I to reach out to some of our acquaintances, many of whom have been kicked in the seat by life. 

One thing is sure – I’m desperately seeking Ruth.

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